Ecology and Management of Weed Seed Predators in Michigan Agroecosystems (E2716)

Michigan farmers who typically use herbicides in combination with tillage, cultivation and crop rotation may also want to consider using weed seed predators to help manage weeds.

Ecology and Management of Weed Seed Predators in Michigan Agroecosystems (E2716)

In virtually every crop field thousands of weed seed predators reduce the impact of weeds on yield, crop quality and harvesting cost. Seed predators are organisms that eat or damage weed seeds, thereby reducing the number of weeds that may germinate and become established (Fig. 1).

What are these organisms? Which weed seeds do they eat? How many do they eat? Where and when can we find them? Can we do anything to increase the quality of the environment where seed predators live? What is the impact of seed predators on weed abundance?

This publication presents the results of our studies conducted at Michigan State University. Our goal is to understand the importance of seed predators as beneficial insects for Michigan farmers.

How important is weed seed predation?

Rodents, birds, ants, ground beetles and crickets all contribute to weed seed predation in crop fields. Our studies have focused on insect seed predators, and their importance in weed seed predation in Michigan crop fields. We evaluated seed predation of four common agricultural weeds (large crabgrass, redroot pigweed, giant foxtail and velvetleaf) twice during August and September of 1996 in several crop fields scattered across southern Michigan. In each case we placed more than 10,000 weed seeds on the soil surface of several corn fields. To our surprise, after a week they had virtually disappeared!

 

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